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The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - CELEBRITY ESCAPE -

AFL iden­tity Sam New­man swapped his fight against cancer for a new bat­tle – strug­gling against the el­e­ments as he trekked the Kokoda Trail, writes Chanel Par­ratt

IT WAS only six years ago that AFL Footy Show host Sam New­man was in hospi­tal un­der­go­ing treat­ment for prostate cancer.

In Oc­to­ber, New­man and his co-host Garry Lyon took on a new chal­lenge – the Kokoda Trail in Pa­pua New Guinea.

Com­pletely out of his com­fort zone bat­tling hills and hu­mid­ity, New­man found plenty to laugh about and a travel ex­pe­ri­ence un­like any he had ex­pe­ri­enced.

Tell me about your trip to PNG last Oc­to­ber?

SN: My good mate Garry Lyon got in my ear about mid last year about trekking Kokoda and what a chal­lenge it would be. At first I wasn’t keen but then when I ac­tu­ally got on the track, well, I still wasn’t keen (laughs). It was the hard­est thing I’ve ever done but the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence blew me away. The in­cred­i­ble war his­tory along the trail, the gen­uine con­nec­tion we have to the “Fuzzy Wuzzy An­gels” as Aussies and push­ing the phys­i­cal and men­tal bar­ri­ers ev­ery day – an in­de­scrib­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

What made Kokoda spe­cial for you?

SN: I just didn’t ex­pect to be so af­fected by the his­tory of our Dig­gers. When you’re walk­ing in their foot­steps and you re­alise how young they were and how un­pre­pared. The hell they went through, it re­ally moved me. I think, also, do­ing the Kokoda Trail with one of my best mates made it spe­cial as well.

What were you look­ing for­ward to most when you got home?

SN: Be­ing dry and cool. It’s so muggy that you’re never com­pletely dry the whole trip.

What was the most chal­leng­ing part of the trek?

SN: The hills. No, the hu­mid­ity. A com­bi­na­tion of the hills and the hu­mid­ity (laughs). Un­re­lent­ing. Day in and day out you feel like you can’t go on but then you think about what our young soldiers went through, en­e­mies around ev­ery cor­ner while han­dling the same en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges we went through and it helps you shut up and keep go­ing.

Were there some good laughs along the way too?

SN: We found hu­mour on many oc­ca­sions even though we found it ex­tremely tough. I don’t know if it was the ex­haus­tion and heat but Garry and I laughed the en­tire trip. There was a par­tic­u­larly funny mo­ment when Garry had hurt his foot and a num­ber of the Pa­pua New Guinean porters came out of the jun­gle with a hand­made stretcher to load him on and carry him part of the way (laughs). It’s an on­go­ing joke from the Footy Show.

So a bit dif­fer­ent from your first trip over­seas?

SN: Yes. My first over­seas trip was to Fiji on a P&O cruise and the Hi­malayas on a footy trip. It was ba­si­cally a gi­ant drink­ing fest from the time we left shore to dis­em­barka­tion.

Do you col­lect sou­venirs?

SN: I have a 500 mil­lion dol­lar ban­knote from Africa, which I’m told will buy me a loaf of bread. That is in­fla­tion at its best.

Any­thing you can’t travel with­out?

SN: Com­pres­sion socks.

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